Does your ability to stabilize your bipolar change as you age?

I have been dealing with my bipolar for more than 20 years and felt that I had gotten a handle on keeping myself stable. My relationship with my doctor is good and we adjust medications as needed. Over the last two years, I have felt more out of control. Are things changing because I’m getting older? Will I eventually just explode?

It is really difficult to say whether Bipolar Disorder worsens with age.  Unfortunately there is no black and white answer to your question.  The jury is still out on the subject and more research is required before this question can be answered.  Some people claim that their Bipolar Disorder worsens as they age and some claim that their symptoms become less frequent and less severe.  There are just too many variables and factors that are involved to really know either way.

You have mentioned that in the last 2 years you have felt more out of control.  A lot of things could be changing as you are getting older, things like brain chemistry, hormones, diet and metabolism, physical changes and the list goes on.  In addition if people have been medically treated for the disorder for years things could be changing because you may have built up a tolerance to your medication and it may not be as effective anymore.  Life stressors and changes can also affect mood and stability over time.  A person’s ability to manage and cope with their symptoms can also be a factor when it comes to mental health.  It is really hard to say why you are feeling more out of control and if this will lead you to “explode” in the future.  However I would highly recommend that you advise your doctor of your current state as soon as possible.  Preventative measures can often curtail these sorts of things from happening.  I would also suggest that you monitor your moods closely and document any fluctuations that are concerning to you.  Bring that information to your doctor as that will help them assess your current mental state and then they can hopefully take the appropriate steps to get you more stabilized.

I am a woman in my late 40’s and my mood swings can also be the result of hormonal changes and early menopause.  Sometimes I think we are too quick to assume that if we are having problems with something it has to be due to our “Bipolar Disorder”.  However this is not always the case, so rather than diagnose ourselves I believe it’s best to check these things out with your doctor.  I was diagnosed with Bipolar II a year ago and I am still working on figuring out and deciphering what may be causing certain changes within me.  I think that “self-awareness” is key, knowing your body and your mind and how things affect you and relaying that information to your doctor can be very helpful to both of you.  As I have stated earlier there really is “no cut and dried” answer to your question.  Hopefully I have given you some things to think about and some helpful suggestions.  I hope that you and your doctor can get things stabilized for you soon.  Thank you for your question.  If you have any further questions or comments please submit them to us at www.askabipolar.com .

3 thoughts on “Does your ability to stabilize your bipolar change as you age?

  1. There are two sides to every story. I was diagnosed with manic depressive disorder in 1982. I have not had a bipolar episode since 1997. That would definitely make me one who says that, in my case at least, it improves with age.

  2. Thanks for your comment Ray, I sure hope that my bipolar symptoms improve with age, I’m keeping my fingers crossed!

  3. My Bi-Polar has changed, but so has my P-Doc.! It is challenging for sure! Keep talking to your friends, spouse for changes in your moods.Fred

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